The night was still warm as they left the apartment. As with other years recently summer seemed to be resisting the long retreat into autumn and there were hopes for a mild winter. Without saying anything specific they found their feet on the longest route through the park, skirting the lake even though it was clearly out of their way. She took the opportunity to ask him why he called the apartment the Field of Reeds. It had been easy enough for her to find the source of the name but the meaning for him had intrigued her. He replied that anywhere he was with Gihon was the closest he’d been to a perfect life; wherever it was, their home would always be the Field of Reeds. Several times after that he seemed to want to say something, but then stopped himself each time he was about to start. Briefly she wondered if he, like her, felt that he might have had too much to drink. Would a lack of sobriety be a safe excuse if something happened between them, something they might regret later?
Close to him seemed a good place to be despite her uncertainties about his situation, and she noticed that they walked in step, gradually coming closer together no matter how wide the path they walked on. Though large, the park was just not big enough for the evening and eventually they arrived on her familiar tree lined avenue. As she went toward the front steps of the old shared house he stretched out and took her hand, pulling her back towards him. The unexpected movement caused her to look up, mouth open in surprise and he bent his face to hers. At last. The knot of tension that had been building in her suddenly changed.
Held in a remarkably strong embrace she was more than happy to respond to his late advance. For long moments it was as if there was nothing else in the world. With none of the hurried fumbling of the young all he did was kiss her. Cool lips against her skin, so soft and tender, not rushing, not forcing but – oh, so exciting. She closed her eyes and enjoyed the feeling, hoping more than anything that it was not just some drunken mistake. Even as her tongue answered his she recalled the image of his reunion with Gihon, that same slow and gentle passion. What about Gihon? She hadn’t known how to ask the question. What if she had come to the wrong conclusion there? She stiffened slightly; it was enough to make him stop.
“I’m sorry, I shouldn’t have done that.” His voice might have been low and the words contrite but she heard no tone of apology. His hands rested, as if forgotten, on her hips. “I wanted to do that all night. I know it’s meant to be wrong of me ….” Unrepentant brown eyes looked down at her, was he looking to her for signs of approval or offence?
“Oh, don’t worry about that. That felt very right. I have to say, you feel remarkably right to me, Dr Jensson.” Vaguely embarrassed she disentangled her fingers from his thick hair, and then reached up again to try and repair the damage she hadn’t realised she had caused.
“I wasn’t sure if you wanted me to …” Barely above a whisper, his concern thrilled her as much as his closeness.
“Oh I wanted you to – I thought that was why it took so long to get here. I wanted to but I wasn’t sure if … Sorry, I’m not very good at this, I’m always the last one to know if anyone is interested. I didn’t want to offend you by jumping in and making a mistake.”
“How could I be offended if someone as young and beautiful as you wanted to kiss me? I am flattered and …” he pulled her in to a tight embrace – she couldn’t stop the small shocked exclamation as she felt him hard against her – and whispered in her ear “… very, very honoured.”
“What about Myk and Gihon?”
“They can get their own attractive young things to kiss if they want, I’ve never stopped them.” He didn’t seem to realise what had caused her earlier confusion. How could he not be aware of it?
“But … I was worried that you … I thought you were meant to be g …?” He silenced her question with another stunning kiss before she could say the word. Whatever had happened before, how could she have doubts about his current inclinations?
“Believe me; I know what I like when I see it. I am too old to even bother keeping up with the terminology of relationships. I have two husbands because they happen to be the most remarkable creatures I’ve met. No wife doesn’t mean that I haven’t looked … just that I’ve not found her. And if/when I do they will cope with it just as I would if they wanted to marry again.” He broke away from her and smiled. “Too much in one go? Sorry, I forget that our ways are unusual over here.” And this time he did look apologetic as if just realising the chasm of experience and expectation between them. Well, she reasoned, that could be something she would just have to get used to it. Were all Europeans like this behind their high walls?
“Kiss me again.” She reached up to pull him back down to her. She didn’t care about his history. The scent of him bypassed rational thought. She couldn’t get enough of breathing him in.
“Sure? You know that your friends are watching us?”
“Oh yes. Definitely in that case.” And this time she twined herself as closely as possible around him, pleased to find that she hadn’t been mistaken about his condition. She found that keeping her fingers deep in his hair was the only way to stop her hands straying, but there was no way to restrain the unconscious movement of her hips against him. Something he reciprocated with a thrillingly deliberate, sinuous motion. Encircled by his arms she finally got it, every nerve ending screamed understanding of what all the fuss was about. The feeling was a new-born thing wanting feeding. It didn’t seem long before she felt she had to ask the question, her voice husky with intent. “Don’t you want to come in?”
“I do, but not this time. It wouldn’t be right.” Another kiss, briefer but no less intense. “There is no need to rush.” And again. “Patience.” She wasn’t sure if his comments were for her or to himself, he seemed to be having equal difficulty in stopping. Finally, he lifted his face from hers, and his gaze was deep and serious. “You need time to decide if this is really what you want and, to be honest, I think this is also going to take me a while to adjust to. It’s been so long since … well … let’s say I’m somewhat out of practice. I know you don’t think you are but you really are very young. I don’t want to take advantage of you … and I guess I don’t want you to think that is what I am doing.” With that he finally released his hold and gave her a light push in the direction of the waiting door. “Go on, go in. I expect little Lupe is nearly chewing through the door, he will be so frantic to hear how your night has been.”
Before finally letting her go there was the briefest touch of his lips to her hand as he wished her a good night. Then he turned away, running back down the street to disappear in the park’s gloom. So that was what he’d meant by people having difficulty catching him – he was a fleet footed shadow. She let herself into the house wondering what other surprises would he have for her. As expected Lupe was lying in wait behind the door, all but beside himself when she said nothing much had happened. Yes she went back to his place, yes they had a meal – but there were four of them – and then he walked her home, just a kiss goodnight, surely not much more than a peck on the cheek so what was he so fired up about?
“Chica that was no peck on the cheek! Robyn had time to make drinks for us all while we waited for you to finish.” With a theatrical sigh he folded his arms and leant against the hallway wall. It was a practiced move intended to convey motherly annoyance and one she had always found amusing when used on other inhabitants of the house. She’d never been on the receiving end of it before. “Well, all I can say is that I hope you are proud of that display – you would be married by now in some places. Honestly, throwing yourself at a skinny old man like that.” They both knew that the pretence of indignation couldn’t last and his tone became conspiratorial as curiosity won out over judgement. “Oh, ok then, how was it?”
“Unbelievable. Just amazing. And … and you, less of the old, he doesn’t look old, what makes you think he feels old? He felt fine enough to me. Anyway, that turned out to be one very unexpected day and I’ve had far too much wine I’m off to my bed. Night guys.” Though she was thrillingly awake she gave them a yawn and a sleepy wave as she retreated up the stairs to the peace of her small room. She was determined to savour the taste of his lips on hers and the feel of his urgent hardness against her, to enjoy the feeling of being so wanted. She also needed to consider the surprising strength of her own response – a world away from anything before.
As she left them staring at the empty space made by her exit she heard Robyn mimicking the breathy voice of the university news anchor – “So, what first attracted you to the billionaire historian?”